KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT DR ERNEST BAI KOROMA AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE AGENDA FOR PROSPERITY IN FREETOWN
It is with great expectations that I today launch our Agenda for Prosperity. For the next five years, this Agenda will be our road map towards meeting our goal of becoming a middle income country and donor nation within the next 25 to 50 years. This Agenda is the firming up of the aspirations of our people. We made tremendous progress during our implementation of the Agenda for Change. We built roads everywhere, attracted billions of dollars of investment in agriculture, mining and other sectors and ensured one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
We commenced the creation of a favourable environment for the private sector to thrive, established a free healthcare program for pregnant women, mothers and children under five, and more than doubled resources allocated to education. We improved electricity supply, provided funds for local government more than any other government before, ensured the reduction of poverty, and continued the consolidation of our democracy through greater respect for human rights, gender equity, and a freer press.
PHOTO CREDIT : FODAY MANSARAY OF COCORIOKO
We still face challenges, but we are a government dedicated to doing more to sustain the transformation of our country. That was why when Sierra Leone turned 50 in 2011, I constituted a Committee on Development and Transformation, charged with the responsibility to take stock of the progress we have made as an independent nation over the last 50 years and to chart the way forward for the next 50 years. The Committee organised the Sierra Leone Conference on Development and Transformation, which came up with a number of outcomes.
I took these recommendations on board when I asked for re-election; my party, the All Peoples Congress endorsed these aspirations when we asked for the peoples mandate for the next five years. This Agenda for Prosperity is therefore the outcome of the pact between the people of this country, my party, my government and myself to do more. We will do more to complete residual projects in the Agenda for Change and to address recurring and emerging challenges. We will do more to address unemployment, particularly among the youth. We all need to do more to better manage our natural resources for the good of all Sierra Leoneans, we need to do more to add value to our primary products, and we need to extend, expand and sustain the Free Health Care and Scaling-Up Nutrition initiatives. We will reform the education system to meet the emerging needs in the job market, we will finish on-going projects in roads, energy and water supply, and we will build much needed infrastructure, including the new mainland airport, railway, roads and ICT capabilities; provide a social safety net for the vulnerable population; promote good governance; ensure that the public sector is capacitated to deliver; empower our women and ensure equal opportunities for both men and women; and above all, we will sustain our fight against corruption, and provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. We prepared this Agenda for Prosperity to guide our collective aspirations to doing more to sustain the transformation of our country. We hope to draw on lessons learnt and to merge innovations with the strong economic growth we have recorded in the last five years.
This new imperative calls for smart work, resilience, and discipline. It calls for the assertion of our best in our relations with each other, with work, with government resources and with our collective inheritance. We are the best nation in religious tolerance, and the friendliness of our people to strangers is second to none in the world. We must carry these attributes of being best to the productive sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism, business partnerships, financial services, education, and healthcare. We must ensure that our economy is diversified to promote inclusive and sustainable growth. We must anchor our Agenda on efforts at being globally credible and internationally competitive. This may require partnerships with internationals in building up capacities in our judiciary, our foreign ministry and other key state institutions. To be successful in the global environment we need to draw upon the best and committed within the country, the best and committed within the Diaspora and the best and committed at the global level. Implementing the Agenda for Prosperity will require concerted efforts, collaboration and coordination among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Emphasis will be placed on monitoring of projects to ensure that results are achieved on timely manner. We will continue to attract foreign direct investment by forging strong partnerships with the private sector, especially on large-scale projects. The Agenda for Prosperity is the country’s one vision and one plan. Its implementation will be guided by strong commitments by Development Partners as well as the Government.
In this regard, Government is developing a mutual accountability framework that will be jointly monitored and reported on. Our goal is to strengthen the partnership between Government and Development Partners as well as ensuring that the voice and opinion of each and every Sierra Leonean is heard in the implementation as was done through wider consultation in developing this national plan.
As we embark on this epic journey to become a middle income country, let me remind fellow Sierra Leoneans that we are today re-committing ourselves to asserting our best. Prosperity is not a gift on a silver platter. Abundance of natural resources is only half the story; the reality of prosperity only comes to a people that go for it. We must go for it with determination. We must sweat it out with our hands, with our brains and with our minds. We must set out to embrace the values of innovation, of cultural renewal in the workplace and respect for public goods. Most importantly, all Sierra Leoneans, at home and in the Diaspora, must realise that success primarily depends on what we as a people do for ourselves and not on what others do for us. Ask not what others have done for you, but what you have done for yourself, your community and your nation. The possibilities of growth, renewal and transformation reside in every Sierra Leonean. We must assert these possibilities to seize the destiny of prosperity. I am very optimistic that we will be successful; I believe that we will all do more; and that together we will achieve the goals that we have set out for ourselves in our Agenda for Prosperity.